Wait Well

I’m skipping ahead a bit to share this part of our story, but this week is the anniversary of Grandma’s accident (referenced in this post). She has recovered, and it just seems fitting to reflect

(May 2016)

“…and pray for us – that we will wait well,” I told our church family as I finished my prayer request. Sigh. There are lots of things I don’t do well, but waiting has always been near the top of the list. I really want to be a patient person, and motherhood has certainly helped me become more patient than I used to be, but I have SO far to go. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve endured waiting: waiting for a positive pregnancy test, waiting for direction, waiting for a job, waiting for the doctor’s report, waiting for a wayward child to come home. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

On the other side of the wait, we usually either find the answer we hoped for or the one we dreaded (we’ve experienced both), but even so, there’s often something comforting about the end of the wait. The waiting room of life is like a treadmill: we aren’t really going anywhere, but we’re getting more and more exhausted by the moment. I’m pretty sure this is why Isaiah says “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” The verse brings hope of renewal and strength: “they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” I always pictured a beautiful eagle flying over a cliff when I heard that verse. What a nice image of strength. It was a verse I heard often and rarely thought twice about – until it hit me. After a period of significant waiting in our lives, I found myself soul-weary and utterly spent. It was only then that I realized the significance of the “wait” in this verse. Of COURSE “they” need to be strengthened….they’ve been WAITING. Waiting. Is. Exhausting. It makes me think of the heart-wrenching hours spent in the ICU waiting room after Grandma’s accident. Our family and others were glued to our seats in that room: separated from the beeping machines, tubes, and wires, that kept our loved ones going, but ready at a moment’s notice to step to their sides or to hear from a visiting physician. Some kind-hearted volunteers do their best to keep that waiting room stocked with COOKIES. Why? Because they want to do something to help. They know that waiting is difficult work.  My dear friend, and others like her, put on brave faces and “hold down the fort” while their spouses serve our country overseas. I watch her with wonder because I know how bad I am at waiting. My husband has sometimes been late coming home, but I’ve never had to wait for months, or a year, or more for his arrival. Waiting. Is. Exhausting. Praise the Lord that He renews our strength. I’m quite certain that if you have been in the perpetual waiting room of life for very long, you too long for that renewal and the ability to simply function without exhaustion.

As foster parents, we find ourselves not only in the Land of the Unknown, but also in the Waiting Room on a regular basis. Between governmental regulations and parental choices, very little can be predicted about how each individual situation will play out. I’m afraid we sound a bit like a “regular” at a restaurant ordering “the usual” when our weekly prayer service rolls around.  For months, we said, “Please pray for the situation with our little ones. We should know more next month”. Seriously. For months, and months, we’ve said we will know more “next month”. At first, it was that we were told they would be leaving us to live with grandparents. This news came only a month or so into our time with them. Next (seven months later), the goal was changed to termination/adoption. Subsequently, one parent began to show promise and progress, so visits became longer and limitations lifted. We were told that “next month,” overnight visits would be requested, and we tried to prepare our hearts for the possibility that they really may be going back soon. Instead, the next month revealed new information and the suggestion that reunification would not be an option. Month by month, our wait progressed until we reached our 16th month with our precious babies. Here is where the termination process began to reach completion – except for one continuance – which left us with none other than another “month” of waiting. Now that the process is fully complete and parents have heart-achingly and lovingly laid down their rights for the good of their children (and ours), you would think that the wait is over. It’s not. There’s more. There’s always more. More processes. More extended relatives. More waiting.

From the outside, people look at us and say “Wow! You are handling it so well!” We’re not. The truth is, we’re an exhausted heap of fainting and weariness, but we KNOW the Lord will renew us because He does it every time. He gives us grace for each step of the way, and strength for each moment. We don’t always notice or appreciate it as immediately as we should, but He is always faithful.

Author Linda Ellis wrote an inspiring poem familiar to many. It talks about headstones on graves and how the “dash” between birth and death is what really matters. The important thing is how we “spend our dash”. The same could be said of the Waiting Room of life. We are often most focused on the outcome – what we consider the “answer” to our prayers. We’re eager to get to the end so we can stop waiting. My friend, I speak to myself as much as to you when I say Yes – Waiting. Is. Exhausting. BUT – take heart! Sometimes the beauty is in the waiting. Look around you and see the cookies. Take comfort in knowing that others are waiting too. Trust the One who holds us even as we wait, and surround yourself with people who will pray for you and help you to wait well.

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